Marathon County Public Library

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Staff Reviews / Book Reviews

Check out these book reviews written by the staff of the Marathon County Public Library, featuring reviews of fiction and nonfiction for adults, children and teens! These book reviews also are published at Goodreads.com; follow us for the latest updates.

"Little House in the Suburbs: Backyard Farming and Home Skills for Self-Sufficient Living" by Deanna Caswell

'Little House in the Suburbs: Backyard Farming and Home Skills for Self-Sufficient Living' by Deanna Caswell

★★★★ Looking to make your own homemade skin care or cleaning products, or start a co-op, or want tips on gardening? This is a great resource for those wanting to be more self-sufficient in any setting, or those who want to make cheaper homemade products free of chemicals. It includes sections on raising animals (like bees and goats), gardening, starting your own co-op with neighbors, and many different ways to make your own homemade products, w ...

Reviewed by Sarah M. Read more reviews of "Little House in the Suburbs: Backyard Farming and Home Skills for Self-Sufficient Living" at Goodreads.com. »

"The War that Saved My Life" by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

'The War that Saved My Life' by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

★★★★★ 10-year-old Ada lives with her brother Jamie and mother in a filthy, rat infested one-room flat in London. She is often abused by her mother who does not allow her to go outside because her mother is ashamed of her clubfoot. When Jamie is being shipped off with other children to the country to avoid injury from bombings during the war, Ada escapes to join him. When Susan Smith, a women still grieving a recent death is forced to take them i ...

Reviewed by Sharyn H. Read more reviews of "The War that Saved My Life" at Goodreads.com. »

"Stella by Starlight" by Sharon M. Draper

'Stella by Starlight' by Sharon M. Draper

★★★★ It is midnight when 11 year-old Stella Mills and her eight year-old brother Jojo witness the burning of a cross by members of the Ku Klux Klan not far from their house. It’s 1932 in Bumblebee, North Carolina and news of the active Klan so close by means their parents need to alert all their African-American neighbors. Stella is practicing to be a good writer, records local stories, and often goes outside where she can think better which ...

Reviewed by Sharyn H. Read more reviews of "Stella by Starlight" at Goodreads.com. »

"The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend" by Dan Santat

'The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend' by Dan Santat

★★★★★ On an island far away, imaginary friends are born. Beekle is one of them, waiting to be chosen by a child and transported to the real world. Rather than waiting, Beekle does the unimaginable and sets sail to the real world. He finds that the real world is strange and uncomfortable, until he meets his perfect friend. Then the world is colorful , fun, and not so strange. This is a fantastic book about finding your place in the big, bustling, ...

Reviewed by Taylor W. Read more reviews of "The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend" at Goodreads.com. »

"Cloche and Dagger (Hat Shop Mystery, #1)" by Jenn McKinlay

'Cloche and Dagger (Hat Shop Mystery, #1)' by Jenn McKinlay

★★★★★ This is an excellent new series that takes place in London. We meet Scarlett, a woman who becomes an overnight Internet sensation when she very publicly runs into her boyfriend celebrating his anniversary with his (surprise!) wife. Fleeing to London to join her cousin and claiming her half in a hat shop store she inherited, Scarlett finds even more surprises. Not only is her cousin missing, but days later Scarlett finds a prominent custome ...

Reviewed by Sarah M. Read more reviews of "Cloche and Dagger (Hat Shop Mystery, #1)" at Goodreads.com. »

"Half Broke Horses" by Jeannette Walls

'Half Broke Horses' by Jeannette Walls

★★★★★ I loved this book! This is the story of the author's grandmother and her amazing life, told from a first person voice. We follow Lily Casey Smith as she grows from a tough little girl, breaking horses on her father's ranch at the tender age of six, to a strong and independent woman. Lily trains as a teacher, works as a maid when she tries out city life, and eventually returns to her ranching roots. She has a lifelong passion for teaching c ...

Reviewed by Bettina P. Read more reviews of "Half Broke Horses" at Goodreads.com. »

"City Cat" by Kate Banks

'City Cat' by Kate Banks

★★★★★ This is an adorable picture book that features a family cat that secretly follows his family as they travel around Europe. It features landmarks in some of the greatest cities, such as London, Amsterdam, Paris, and Venice, and information at end of the book on each. As someone who's been to many of the cities featured, I thought the pictures were authentic and are bound to foster the love of traveling in any child. The ending was great as ...

Reviewed by Sarah M. Read more reviews of "City Cat" at Goodreads.com. »

"Prune" by Gabrielle Hamilton

'Prune' by Gabrielle Hamilton

★★★★ Foodies, professional chefs, and serious home cooks will love this creative and unique cookbook from the chef and owner of the NYC restaurant Prune. It's presented like a how-to manual for new cooks at Prune, complete with Hamilton's hand-written (and occasionally snarky) notes and tips about preparing Prune's signature dishes. There is even a section about using leftover "garbage" from service, such as parmesan rinds, vegetable tops, and ...

Reviewed by Kathleen K. Read more reviews of "Prune" at Goodreads.com. »

"What I Know For Sure" by Oprah Winfrey

'What I Know For Sure' by Oprah Winfrey

★★★★★ This was a profound read for me. While I started this somewhat with trepidation, as I'm not one to usually read something like this, it struck me from the very beginning. As someone who has had a scary and difficult year, I found a lot of truth and connection to the stories told in this that deeply struck a cord with me. Oprah recounts some of her biggest moments in life and the lessons she learned from them. I appreciated the accessibilit ...

Reviewed by Sarah M. Read more reviews of "What I Know For Sure" at Goodreads.com. »

"Aarti Paarti: An American Kitchen with an Indian Soul" by Aarti Sequeira

'Aarti Paarti: An American Kitchen with an Indian Soul' by Aarti Sequeira

★★★★ This cookbook is a beautiful celebration of Indian food and the author's past, present, and future. I really loved how personal the stories she included along with the tempting recipes were. She explains the most common ingredients in Indian recipes and how to use them, and her recipes look gorgeous and tasty! This is a must read if you love Indian food. ...

Reviewed by Sarah M. Read more reviews of "Aarti Paarti: An American Kitchen with an Indian Soul" at Goodreads.com. »

"The Pizza Bible: Everything You Need to Know to Make Napoletano to New York Style, Deep Dish and Wood-fired, Thin Crust, Stuffed Crust, Cornmeal Crust, and More" by Tony Gemignani

'The Pizza Bible: Everything You Need to Know to Make Napoletano to New York Style, Deep Dish and Wood-fired, Thin Crust, Stuffed Crust, Cornmeal Crust, and More' by Tony Gemignani

★★★ Written by the eleven time world pizza champ, this book features recipes for an assortment of pizza types, like deep dish, wood fired, and Sicilian styles, as well as pizzas native to certain areas like New York, Chicago, and more. It even includes "My Ten Commandments of Pizza", such as "thou shalt not rush the rise". Alongside tempting pictures of all the pizzas are stories, antidotes, and tips. This is a great pizza cookbook filled with ...

Reviewed by Sarah M. Read more reviews of "The Pizza Bible: Everything You Need to Know to Make Napoletano to New York Style, Deep Dish and Wood-fired, Thin Crust, Stuffed Crust, Cornmeal Crust, and More" at Goodreads.com. »

"Libraries" by Bjarne Hammer

'Libraries' by Bjarne Hammer

★★★★ This gorgeous new book features beautiful libraries around the world, such as the Library of Alexandria in Alexandria, Egypt and Trinity College Library in Dublin. Each of the captivating photos feature a snippet of interesting information about each location (in multiple languages) and highlights the unique architecture and accommodations of each beautiful library. A great book for any library lover! ...

Reviewed by Sarah M. Read more reviews of "Libraries" at Goodreads.com. »

"The Daring Ladies of Lowell" by Kate Alcott

'The Daring Ladies of Lowell' by Kate Alcott

★★★★★ In 1832 Massachusetts, there are not a lot of opportunities for young women. Alice is young and headstrong. She works hard on the family farm but her father controls her life and her future. Alice wants more. She moves to the mill town of Lowell where young women can find employment in the cotton mills and freedom from their families. Alice loves her new independence, ability to hold her own money, and the sudden expansion of her social ci ...

Reviewed by Bettina P. Read more reviews of "The Daring Ladies of Lowell" at Goodreads.com. »

"Sedition" by Katharine Grant

'Sedition' by Katharine Grant

★★★★ In 1794 London, four merchant class fathers who have made their way and their fortune find themselves faced with the problem of marrying off their coming of age daughters. They of course want their daughters to marry up, so they devise a plan. Their daughters will learn to play the newly invented pianoforte and then give a concert, invitation only, to the single heirs who hold high English titles but lack the fortunes to go with them. Thei ...

Reviewed by Bettina P. Read more reviews of "Sedition" at Goodreads.com. »

"Dataclysm: Who We Are (When We Think No One's Looking)" by Christian Rudder

'Dataclysm: Who We Are (When We Think No One's Looking)' by Christian Rudder

★★★★ Mr. Rudder is a Harvard-educated mathematician and co-founder of OkCupid, an online dating and sometimes mating service. If you want to explore the world of number crunching in the modern world of media and technology, this book is it. He shows through multiple examples, graphs and analysis what numbers reveal (that sometimes people are loath to). Much of the book uses OKCupid data sets to explore a variety of societal issues from who is a ...

Reviewed by Marsha Y. Read more reviews of "Dataclysm: Who We Are (When We Think No One's Looking)" at Goodreads.com. »

"Her Brilliant Career: Ten Extraordinary Women of the Fifties" by Rachel Cooke

'Her Brilliant Career: Ten Extraordinary Women of the Fifties' by Rachel Cooke

★★★★ A fascinating look at the role of women in the 1950s, this book shows us that there were definitely exceptions to the stereotypical housewife we've been shown. This book gives mini biographies of some of the extraordinary women who forged careers in a man's world and paved the way for the opportunities that women enjoy today. From race car drivers to writers to architects, we are given an in depth look at the careers and private lives of t ...

Reviewed by Bettina P. Read more reviews of "Her Brilliant Career: Ten Extraordinary Women of the Fifties" at Goodreads.com. »

"Best Mug Cakes Ever: Treat Yourself to Homemade Cake for One In Five Minutes or Less" by Monica Sweeney

'Best Mug Cakes Ever: Treat Yourself to Homemade Cake for One In Five Minutes or Less' by Monica Sweeney

★★★★★ I thought it was brilliant when a friend e-mailed me a recipe for making cake in a mug a couple of years ago, so when I found this book I was ecstatic! This book is filled with fun recipes that can be used for a quick dessert anytime. They are ready start to finish in about five minutes. There is a little bit of guesswork when you first start out, depending on the wattage of your microwave and the size of your mugs, but the author does a g ...

Reviewed by Bettina P. Read more reviews of "Best Mug Cakes Ever: Treat Yourself to Homemade Cake for One In Five Minutes or Less" at Goodreads.com. »

"The Paris Winter" by Imogen Robertson

'The Paris Winter' by Imogen Robertson

★★★★★ Set in Paris during the early 20th century, this novel is about art and intrigue. The central character is Maud Heighton, an Englishwoman studying painting at Lafond's Academie. To save herself from starvation during the harsh winter, Maud becomes a paid companion to a wealthy Frenchman's sister. However, the man and his sister are not who they appear to be. Diamonds, high society, hidden identities, and opium abuse intertwine as Maud and ...

Reviewed by Anna C. Read more reviews of "The Paris Winter" at Goodreads.com. »

"The Boy Who Drew Monsters" by Keith Donohue

'The Boy Who Drew Monsters' by Keith Donohue

★★★★★ Looking for a creepy read? Then look no further. This book plays on some of our darkest childhood fears; monsters in the closet, vicious dogs, losing our loved ones, and drowning. Ten-year-old Jack Peter has suffered from agoraphobia since he nearly drowned 3 years ago. The only time he sets foot outside is when his parents wrap him in a blanket and stuff him in the car for appointments. His parents and lifelong friend, Nicholas, are his o ...

Reviewed by Bettina P. Read more reviews of "The Boy Who Drew Monsters" at Goodreads.com. »

"Blythewood (Blythewood, #1)" by Carol Goodman

'Blythewood (Blythewood, #1)' by Carol Goodman

★★★★★ At only seventeen Avaline Hall is now an orphan. Never knowing her father, Ava grew up with a mother who weaved her love of Blythewood, the boarding school she was suddenly expelled from, into every story she told her daughter. But after Ava's mother abruptly commits suicide, and then Ava herself almost perishes in a terrible factory fire, Ava finds herself accepted into the very elite Blythewood Academy her mother so mysteriously was expe ...

Reviewed by Sarah M. Read more reviews of "Blythewood (Blythewood, #1)" at Goodreads.com. »

"Nightmares! (Nightmares!, #1)" by Jason Segel

'Nightmares! (Nightmares!, #1)' by Jason Segel

★★★★ Twelve-year-old Charlie Laird has big problems. His mom died, his dad remarried, and now together with his younger brother Jack they must move into his new "stepmonster’s" (that’s what he calls her) odd-looking purple mansion with a tower. Positive that his new "stepmonster" is a witch, he barricades himself inside his new bedroom where he can’t sleep because he is plagued with nightmares. But when the Waking World and the Netherworl ...

Reviewed by Sharyn H. Read more reviews of "Nightmares! (Nightmares!, #1)" at Goodreads.com. »

"Pen & Ink: Tattoos and the Stories Behind Them" by Isaac Fitzgerald

'Pen & Ink: Tattoos and the Stories Behind Them' by Isaac Fitzgerald

★★★★★ People have been tattooing their bodies for thousands of years. Some tattoos are thought about for years and others are spur of the moment decisions. I have always been fascinated by the stories behind the art and so this book was a perfect find. Each tattoo is artistically recreated and accompanied by the person's story. Some stories are funny, others emotional, but all are as unique as the individual and their tattoo. Whether you have in ...

Reviewed by Bettina P. Read more reviews of "Pen & Ink: Tattoos and the Stories Behind Them" at Goodreads.com. »

"The Rosie Effect (Don Tillman #2)" by Graeme Simsion

'The Rosie Effect (Don Tillman #2)' by Graeme Simsion

★★★★★ I was anxiously awaiting this sequel and it did not disappoint. Geneticist Don Tillman is living in New York with his new wife Rosie. He has settled into a new university and Rosie is working on her MD and PhD simultaneously. Everything in his world seems right, until it is turned upside down by an unexpected pregnancy. On top of that, Don's friend Gene has been thrown out by his wife and is moving in with him, his new friend Dave is strug ...

Reviewed by Bettina P. Read more reviews of "The Rosie Effect (Don Tillman #2)" at Goodreads.com. »

"A Year in the Life of Downton Abbey: Seasonal Celebrations, Traditions, and Recipes" by Jessica Fellowes

'A Year in the Life of Downton Abbey: Seasonal Celebrations, Traditions, and Recipes' by Jessica Fellowes

★★★★★ Full of gorgeous photographs, behind-the-scenes information about the show, and fascinating historical details, this book is a must-read for any Downton Abbey fan! The author breaks the chapters into months of the year, describing events that occurred each month and interviewing cast members and crew. She also focuses on a unique aspect of production on the show each month, and even includes recipes tailored for the modern kitchen. This bo ...

Reviewed by Kathleen K. Read more reviews of "A Year in the Life of Downton Abbey: Seasonal Celebrations, Traditions, and Recipes" at Goodreads.com. »

"Ikaria: Lessons on Food, Life, and Longevity from the Greek Island Where People Forget to Die" by Diane Kochilas

'Ikaria: Lessons on Food, Life, and Longevity from the Greek Island Where People Forget to Die' by Diane Kochilas

★★★★ This was a great, new book to stumble upon! This cookbook focuses on the life and recipes of the small Greek island of Ikaria. Between recipes unique to this area, the author shares stories of the people, culture, and food of this beautiful island, alongside fantastic pictures. This cookbook is a great opportunity to delve into the lives of the locals, and the food that sustains them. ...

Reviewed by Sarah M. Read more reviews of "Ikaria: Lessons on Food, Life, and Longevity from the Greek Island Where People Forget to Die" at Goodreads.com. »

25 | Based on the Goodreads API.